Microsoft has given an official name to its antispyware software. The product, which has been known as Windows AntiSpyware Beta 1.0, will be called Windows Defender when the finished version becomes available next year.

A posting on Microsoft's TechNet webblog announced the change on Friday and also revealed some details about new capabilities. The current version of Windows AntiSpyware Beta 1.0 has 18 million users, a company spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Windows Defender will employ the same detection technology used in Microsoft's antivirus engine, improving the spyware detection capabilities, according to the blog post. Spyware is software that monitors a user's online habits without the user's knowledge or permission.

The software will also protect users against rootkits and keystroke loggers, the blog said. Rootkits hide files, potentially malicious in nature, from security software. Keystroke loggers can enable hackers to discover a user's password or other sensitive information.

Windows Defender will also sport an updated user interface, and enterprise customers will be able to receive updates to Defender through Windows Server Update Services, the blog said.

Windows Defender will be part of Windows Vista, Microsoft's latest operating system scheduled for release next year. It will also be available to users of Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003.

Users will be able to disable it and use spyware software from a different vendor if they choose, the spokeswoman said. Windows Security Center, which alerts users if they aren't running an antispyware program, will recognise third-party antispyware software, she said.

The blog posting is here.

In related news, Check Point Software Technologies has announced new software, Integrity Anti-Spyware, which will be integrated into its Check Point Integrity software. The move means that customers will be able to use a single security product from Check Point that includes spyware protection as well as endpoint security, the firm announced on Monday.

According to Check Point, Integrity Anti-Spyware detects spyware and automatically quarantines or removes it. The product will become available later this month and can be purchased as part of a suite of products that costs $67 (£39) or more per user.